Even though cats are usually more independent than dogs, they can get lonely and need their owners to give them everything they need to stay happy and healthy. Today, our Westfield vets explain how long cats can be left home alone and provide you with tips on how you can ensure your kitty has everything they need to stay healthy, happy, and safe while you are gone.
The Independent Cat Myth
Cat owners know that our feline companions are much more sociable than their reputation might have us believe.
So, do cats get lonely? Like people, our feline friends have a varying range of personalities. While some cats may be consistently aloof and prefer their own company, other cats happily greet their owners at the door when they get home from work every day and follow you around the house meowing. Therefore, some cats will probably adjust better to being alone than others based entirely on their personalities, but all cats need their people (some more than others).
Your Cat's Age When Leaving Them Alone
Cats that are very young, very old, or have underlying health issues tend to be more vulnerable and require more attention than healthy middle-aged cats. So remember to take extra care when leaving kittens, senior cats, and cats with medical conditions alone.
Kittens & Young Cats
On average, kittens need to be fed 3 or 4 times a day until they are about 6 months old. Young cats also tend to get into more trouble when they aren't supervised. Kittens under 4 months old shouldn't be left on their own for more than 4 hours at a time. If you know your cat will need to get used to being alone because of your lifestyle, start training them by gradually increasing the amount of time you are out of the house. Ask your vet for specific instructions on how you can get your kitten used to being home alone.
Once your kitten is 6 months old, if you have to be away for an extended amount of time, we recommend having a friend or family member take your cat to their house to care for them. If that's not possible, have someone pop by your place once or twice a day to check in on your young cat to make sure they are safe, have enough food to eat, and get some social interaction to relieve boredom.
If you have a young kitty and need to be away from home for more than 2-4 hours pet boarding is the ideal solution. Many boarding facilities offer high-quality care for cats of any age, complete with lots of love and attention.
Healthy Adult Cats
In some cases, it could be okay to leave your healthy, middle-aged cat alone for 24-48 hours. Of course, this will depend upon a number of factors including your cat's personality, your living conditions, and whether they are used to spending time alone. If your cat is going to be left on their own for a day or two make sure the temperature in your home isn't too hot or too cold, that there is enough (dry) food left out for your cat to eat while you're away, and that there is lots of clean drinking water. It's also a good idea to make sure that the litter box is completely clean before you leave.
You can help keep your cat from feeling lonely or prevent them from getting into trouble by taking them to a trusted pet boarding facility in your neighborhood. Pet boarding can provide you with the freedom to leave home knowing your kitty is safe and being well taken care of while you are away.
Senior Cats & Cats With Underlying Health Conditions
Older cats can be very sensitive to routines, which means that changes to their normal day can be stressful for them to handle. Stress can result in an increased risk of health conditions and stomach problems. It's also common for senior cats to require extra feedings or medication throughout the day. For these reasons, it may not be a good idea to leave your senior cat alone overnight. Lots of pet boarding facilities offer round-the-clock care for animals that require a little extra TLC while their owners are gone, making boarding an ideal option for cats that are unwell or elderly. If your cat must stay home alone, have someone visit your house twice a day to check on your senior cat.
Your vet knows your senior cat best, speak to your vet about how long they believe your kitty can be left alone safely.
Tips for Leaving Your Cat When You Need to be Away
If you are planning to be away from home talk to your vet to find out if they have any concerns about your cat being left alone. Your vet knows your cat's health concerns and is in the best position to give you advice on your cat's wellbeing. Meanwhile, here are a few tips to help make sure your cat stays safe while you are gone:
- We strongly recommend that you have someone check on your cat once or twice a day while you are gone, to ensure your kitty is safe and has enough food and water for the duration of your absence.
- Consider leaving a radio or tv on, so your cat can hear voices while you are away. It could help alleviate your cat's boredom.
- Ensure that your cat has plenty of clean water in a bowl that will not tip over and spill. Cat water fountains are available from pet stores. These handy devices can help your cat's water stay fresher and cleaner while you're gone.
- Provide your cat with enough food for the duration of your time away. You may want to invest in an automated pet feeder to rotate the food and keep it fresher.
- If your cat is particularly fussy about their litter box you may want to leave 2 clean and fresh litter boxes out for them.
- Check the weather and be sure that your thermostat is set so your home will remain at a comfortable temperature while you're away.
- Bring your kitty to a local pet boarding facility. Cat boarding facilities can provide your feline friend with a clean place to stay where they will be well cared for, and given lots of human interaction.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.